Guest Writer - Victor Chatain | Account Director, careMESH
Account Director careMESH
Improving Community Health Through Innovation and Technology
As a French-born, naturalized American, I have often witnessed how minority groups build strong relationships that create positive, intra-community synergy. For example, French people in the DC-area typically seek care from French doctors simply because it is easier to address personal matters in our native tongue. One might say that people are formatted to trust their ‘own’. If I tell a fellow Frenchman I have a great French doctor, chances are high that he will take me up on that referral. Naturally, our Hispanic and Latino communities here in the District also stick together, and preserve their own intra-community relationships.
Therefore, it’s common that challenges to address minority health can arise at the junction of community providers providing care within these communities and larger healthcare organizations such as Hospitals and Emergency Departments. These care settings often struggle to share information back to the community providers such as Primary Care Physicians, who serve as the “quarterbacks” for their patients’ care and understand their unique history, because there is no easy way to do so and huge patient volumes. The patient then becomes the messenger to share information back to their family doctor, and the challenges go far beyond geographic or language barriers.
Unlike the financial industry, healthcare today typically still runs on phone, printers, and (e)fax to share information between electronic health record systems. Patient information is not ‘flowing’ between care settings and hospitals, the way one might expect. They have great volumes of medical records and care information to process, and manual processes continue to make sharing information difficult.
With all of this in mind, leaders in DC are tackling these challenges and created the State Medicaid Health IT Plan or SMHP (lead by the Department of Health Care Finance), which thoughtfully describes amongst other things, the current lay of land regarding everything Health IT in the District. This includes, current infrastructures, programs, stakeholder feedback, and projects built through partnership, technology, and innovation to improve patient care. The SMHP can basically serve as the foundation or road map to continue developing how Personal Health Information (PHI) and patient health records are digitally shared and accessed through the District and across our local healthcare organizations, no matter what community a patient belongs to.
Tremendous progress has already been made, with healthcare providers across the city being able to see a patient’s care snapshot through our local Health Information Exchange Portal (CRISP HIE), so that they have background information on the patient at the point of care and so that they can better understand their health status (previous visits, medication, diagnoses). Other services provided by the HIE include, automatically gives notifications about a patient’s transition from one care setting to the other and to interested care-team members across organizations which supports care-coordination.
However, although accessing information from one care setting to the other is a giant step towards bettering care in the District, viewing information online does not facilitate real-time, one-to-one communication between ED Physicians, a family doctor, a community provider, or a home health worker in one part of the city and another. Providers do not have a simple and secure way of communicating amongst each other and about a patient’s care, and they still rely on phone and fax to share information.
At careMESH, we believe that information-sharing amongst providers and between care settings in the District will improve quality and strengthen relationships across communities. We aim to bridge communications gaps for all providers: Primary Care, Specialty Care, Hospitals, Clinics, and Community Providers (such as food banks, home health care, and behavioral health counselors), and across all communities. This will make it easier for all providers to share patient information and medical records securely and as simply as being able to send an email or text message without resorting to fax or voicemail. Not only will this promote timely care, it will help our city’s doctors, nurses, and other caregivers become more efficient.
Our team welcomes innovation and communication and strongly believes that working together within the District to digitally and securely connect all healthcare providers will become a nationwide model for better care. I invite you to reach out at any time to explore how we are currently building this model locally and nationally, and how both patients and caregivers can be part of the movement -- building better Healthcare in our communities, together.